Today’s Story: TOR Wines
TOR is a small production winery that makes single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux varietals from high-quality fruit sourced from multiple vineyards in Napa Valley. Its proprietors, Tor and Susan Kenward, started their endeavor following Tor’s nearly three decade career with Beringer Vineyards helping craft their reserve and single vineyard bottlings. With Beringer, Tor was able to become friends with several Napa Valley icons who helped encourage him to learn and push the envelope with quality wines, while also traveling the world and walking vineyards of some of the most important wine producers in Europe. Susan, on the other hand, began her career in the culinary industry as she wrote five cookbooks and won two James Beard Awards. She then moved into fashion and the beauty industries, becoming a well-known lifestyle influence.
On the winemaking front, Tor and his winemaker, Jeff Ames, share similar purist ideals such that wine should represent its place rather than a winemaker’s particular style. Every wine is made by hand and comes unfined and unfiltered, built in a high quality that is meant for serious aging. As Tor says, “the wines I’m making right now, I’m assuming a good number of them are going to outlive me.”
In addition to their Beckstoffer To Kalon I am reviewing today, TOR makes a Vine Hill Ranch Cab, Cimarossa Vineyard Cab (Howell Mountain), Melanson Vineyard Cab (Pritchard Hill), Herb Lamb Vineyard Cab, and Tierra Roja Vineyard Cab. TOR also makes several very small production blends, including Black Magic (only 125 cases in 2017, this is only made in specific vintages). I will review one of their Chardonnay offerings in a future post, delving into their range of white wine bottlings at that time.
Today’s Wine: 2012 Beckstoffer To Kalon
100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15.1% ABV
This is the third time I’ve had this wine (first in April 2017, then in March 2018) and it seems to be developing nicely. That being said, this still seems somewhat one-dimensional to me versus my prior two tastings.
In appearance, this Cab is medium purple at its core with ruby near the edges of the glass. The nose emits welcoming and sweet aromas of blueberry, plum, black cherry, lavender, and cedar, though this is not as multi-dimensional as other bottles I enjoyed. I’m excited to try this again in several years to see if we get some of the tertiary notes. The palate continues the sweet theme with flavors of blackberry compote, blueberry, sweet tobacco, milk chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish with jammy dark fruit. I think this falls into the people-pleasing camp of wines, though don’t get me wrong it is high quality. The unfortunate thing about this bottle is…
Price: $185. I’d be more comfortable recommending this if it were closer to $120 per bottle. It is small production (39 barrels, about 975 cases) and it carries the Beckstoffer name, which is why I think it is so high. There are better values elsewhere.